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Jul-07-2010 21:43printcomments

Coast Guard Loses Three in Helicopter Crash off Washington

Aircraft crashed enroute to Sitka, Alaska.

Coast Guard boats aid in search for downed helicopter
Search for crew members and wreckage from a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, which crashed July 7, 2010.
Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Nathan Littlejohn.

(SEATTLE) - Three U.S. Coast Guard aviators are dead following the crash of their MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter in the waters near James Island, Washington Wednesday morning.

Multiple U.S. Coast Guard units responded to the scene after the Coast Guard in Sitka, Alaska lost contact with the Coast Guard station at was lost with the aircraft Wednesday at 9:32 a.m.

A good Samaritan retrieved two crewmembers from the water and transferred them to Emergency Medical Services.

The Coast Guard Air Station in Astoria launched an MH 60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., launched an MH 65 dolphin helicopter crews, and Coast Guard Station Quillayute, Wash., launched three response boat crews to search for the remaining crew.

One crewmember is at a Seattle hospital being treated for non-life threatening injuries and the remaining three are deceased.

The Coast Guard is not releasing the condition of the survivor or the names of the crewmembers until next of kin notification is complete.

The Coast Guard helicopter, and its 4-person crew, were departing U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, Ore., and were en route to Sitka, Alaska.

Dive teams from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and the National Parks Service assisted with the search along with the Quileute tribal response teams and Canadian Air Force.

The next step of this response is the salvage and investigation phase.

The investigation can include survivor interviews, witness interviews, and review of information from the flight data recorder.

( Editor's note: Our hearts go out to these brave members of the U.S. Coast Guard; a group that always goes to aid others regardless of the inherent risks. They stand by with vigilance to help people survive sometimes impossible circumstances, and at the same time take endless precautions to ensure their return from each mission. Sometimes the worst happens and it is inevitable, but thankfully rare. But not rare enough. It is truly sad news to report.)

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